According do a study done by Covenant Eyes in 2013 1 out of 8 internet searches are for erotic content. And while men are still much more likely to look at porn than women, the number of female viewers are growing.
Angie Rowntree has been named as one of the adult industry's top female directors. She has been making erotic adult movies since the early nineties and she makes porn that is specifically geared towards female viewers. Her recent film "Gone" has been described by film critic Rich Moreland as "the most thoughtful and significant porn film this reviewer has ever seen. It stands alone in defining adult film as art."
Rowntree's work has been described as female-centric, couple focused and feminist.
News24 asks 8 questions about the porn industry in general and about female-centric porn specifically.
1) How is female-centric porn different from the run-of-the-mill stuff? Would you say you cater less to the male gaze? Is there more focus on different areas of sexuality?
What mainstream porn often doesn’t do is emphasise the pleasure or enjoyment of their female characters. When it comes to the sex, it’s still primarily concerned with the masculine point of view and depicting sex acts which appeal to male fantasies.
The women in the scenes feel like they have no relevance to what’s happening – other than to serve as a target for the inevitable “money shot,” of course.
Our films celebrate women’s sexuality.
It’s not that you have to ‘turn the tables’ on the typical porn dynamic and present all the women in your movies as dominant, or make them the absolute center of attention, but you do need to make them more central. The woman’s pleasure and her enjoyment needs to matter, however it is being depicted or derived, which is what we do. Our films celebrate women’s sexuality.
2) Is it fair to say women find different things attractive? Surely women sometimes enjoy wild sex as much as men sometimes prefer tender lovemaking?
Absolutely, women’s tastes in porn are just as varied and diverse as men’s, there’s no question about it. When I talk about the elements which make porn “female-friendly,” I’m always careful to note I’m speaking in generalities, because the truth is there’s no magic formula which is going to enable you to make erotica all women like, just as there’s no such thing as porn every man likes.
We’re all unique individuals in this world, and we’re just as individual in our sexuality as we are in our genetic makeups.
3) And in that vein, do you do market research with women and couples to inform productions? If so, what forms does this research take?
Ever since I first launched Sssh.com in 1999, I’ve been collecting survey data and other feedback from site members and visitors. I knew from the start I couldn’t just assume, because I’m a woman, I’d have some intuitive understanding of what women want from their erotica, so I’ve spent almost 20 years asking questions, listening to the responses, comparing feedback from thousands of women and couples, and making films based on what I’ve learned.
My goal is to show sex in a positive light, and as something meaningful and real.
I collect data on specific sex acts they do or don’t want to see, fantasies they’ve entertained over the years, types of stories, and situations they’d like to see depicted in my films – all kinds of incredibly valuable and much appreciated feedback.
Many of my movies, like Gone, are based entirely on input from individual members. So it’s safe to say that if you see it on Sssh.com, it’s because someone has asked for it.
4) How much of it is real in terms of female pleasure and satisfaction?
We are used to seeing the so-called “money shot” when it comes to male pleasure, but I know many women feel alienated by porn, since it just seems unfeasible for the female performers to be having fun, or for that matter, orgasms.
We provide a safe and fun environment, where organic sex is celebrated.
I highly encourage the couples we work with to “just be themselves.” My goal is to show sex in a positive light, and as something meaningful and real. I very much prefer all the pleasure being expressed is legitimate and heartfelt.
I always tell performers what I’m looking for is authenticity: real sex, real pleasure, and a real connection. We provide a safe and fun environment, where organic sex is celebrated. I think I’ve been successful in achieving our goals.
5) How does the casting process work? Is it a physical thing? Do you look for a connection between the actors? Is it based on what the performers are willing to do, or how well they can do it?
As much as possible, we work with performers who are couples off-screen as well. This really helps to make scenes in which there’s a strong connection and great sexual chemistry between the actors, because they already know what their partner likes, and how to really turn each other on.
If possible, we want them to be with their ideal partner, not just someone who they don’t actively object to being intimate with.
When we aren’t able to work with real-life couples, we try to pair actors together who have worked with each other before and have a good connection. I think most (if not all) adult studios use a “no list” – lists of people any given performer doesn’t want to work with – but we try to take that a step further and use a “yes list,” meaning people the actors have enjoyed working with in the past. If possible, we want them to be with their ideal partner, not just someone who they don’t actively object to being intimate with.
It’s extremely important to me the performers be enthusiastic, not just because I want them to have the best experience possible, but because it really does translate to the screen in the form of a great compelling sex scene.
6) Recently a lot has been said about violation of consent on porn sets. How do you protect your performers? Are there safe words? What if someone just decides they don’t feel up to doing something on a specific shooting day?
On my set, the fundamental rule is the performers are in charge of what takes place with their bodies, period. Prior to casting any film, we sit down with potential actors and talk about the role, portrayal, expectations, and the nature of sexual activities needed for the movie’s plotline and feel.
Nobody is ever pressured to do something they don’t feel comfortable with on my set.
With all that said, once the filming starts, no matter what they’ve previously agreed to, if they change their mind on the spot and decide they don’t want to move forward with something, we change the scene accordingly. Nobody is ever pressured to do something they don’t feel comfortable with on my set. That’s an absolute rule, something on which I have always insisted.
On top of the ethical requirement to assure the physical and emotional well-being of performers, there’s also the creative goal of capturing good sex on film which shows passion, connection, and enjoyment by both actors. Having people do things with which they’re uncomfortable, or are having second thoughts about, would be completely antithetical to that goal.
I’ve published the Sssh on-set policies and best practices for all to read. As part of those practices, we make sure every performer understands first and foremost they always have an absolute right to say no, even if what they’re saying no to is something to which they previously explicitly said ‘yes’ to.
7) Speaking about not being up for it, what happens if the men are physically struggling? Does erectile dysfunction happen on set, and how do you deal with it when it occurs?
I can’t speak for other studios, but this really hasn’t been an issue for us. We tend to use real-life couples, performers who have worked together before, or desire to work together, so they already have great chemistry and mutual attraction.
Occasionally, a couple will ask for a few moments of privacy to get themselves into the mood, so we step out until they’re ready. For the most part, though, we don’t have a problem with people being ‘up for the scene,’ so to speak.
8) With “female-friendly” and “couple-friendly” erotica, what has changed in terms of how women’s bodies are portrayed? Is there less objectification? Is there space for different body shapes?
One of the best things about the increase in women directing adult films is we all bring our own vision to the table, which is so important - having diversity in the adult film industry. We are all defying porn stereotypes in very exciting ways.
Back then, everybody told me I was crazy for thinking there was any potential in making porn for women
On the whole, I’d say the industry still has a long way to go in terms of embracing diversity and abandoning preconceived notions about who its audience is and what they want to see. However, we’ve come a long, long way since the early 90s, when I got my start.
Back then, everybody told me I was crazy for thinking there was any potential in making porn for women, because they said there was no such market. Nowadays, porn for women is a growth market of which they all want to be a part. This sounds like progress to me.